When Things Fall Apart ends, colonial rule has been introduced to Umuofia, and the character of the nation, its values, freedoms, religious and socio-political foundations have substantially and irrevocably been altered. Arrow of God, the second novel in Chinua Achebe’s The African Trilogy, moves the historical narrative forward.
This time, the action revolves around Ezeulu, the headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, which is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro. The novel is a meditation on the nature, uses, and responsibility of power and leadership.
Ezeulu finds that his authority is increasingly under threat from rivals within his nation and functionaries of the newly established British colonial government. Yet he sees himself as untouchable.
He is forced, with tragic consequences, to reconcile conflicting impulses in his own nature—a need to serve the protecting deity of his Umuaro people; a desire to retain control over their religious observances; and a need to gain increased personal power by pushing his authority to the limits. He ultimately fails as he leads his people to their own destruction, and consequently, his personal tragedy arises.
Arrow of God is an unforgettable portrayal of the loss of faith, and the downfall of a man in a society forever altered by colonialism.
Chinua Achebe (born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe; 16 November 1930 - 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. His first novel Things Fall Apart (1958) was considered his magnum opus, and is the most widely read book in modern African literature.
Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in South-Eastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a "language of colonisers", in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" featured a famous criticism of Joseph Conrad as "a thoroughgoing racist"; it was later published in The Massachusetts Review amid some controversy.
When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a supporter of Biafran independence and acted as ambassador for the people of the new nation. The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned to the U.S. in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled.
A titled Igbo chieftain himself, Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay collections. From 2009 until his death, he served as David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown.